I am one of those people who has great ideas, but is terrible with follow-through. I get plans set in my head, and then for one reason or another they just float out my ears. One of the ideas that has stuck around is that I should spend more time volunteering to help others. I always MEAN to do it, and I guess I do in a small way by donating items and money when I can. Today I had the opportunity to actually lend my time and my hands, which I found out is probably the best donation of all.
My company was one of many that took part in the "Day of Caring" sponsored by the United Way. A group of us were assigned to help out at Martha's Table. Martha's Table is a non-profit group that is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of low-income and homeless children, families, and individuals. They serve meals, sponsor after-school programs, and provide day care for children ages 3 months to 4 years. My group originally thought we would preparing and serving meals, but instead we were asked to help in the day care. I was in a room with 20 kids between the ages of 2 and 3 yrs old. There were only two teachers assigned to the room, and let me tell you, those people have nerves of steel. You could honestly see the energy vibrating off of the walls. The kids loved having visitors, and they were all over us in a flash. We read them stories, played with the toys, and in general just gave them much needed personal attention. A little girl named Leila stayed with me the whole day. I wiped her nose, read her books, and helped her recite all of the body parts. She did everything possible to keep my attention, including bursting into tears when someone else helped themselves to my lap. When it was time to go outside, I realized Leila was one of the ones who didn't have a coat. I'm not sure if it was just forgotten at home, or if she really didn't have one to bring. Luckily, her energy outside kept her warm. We had to leave around lunch time so they could eat and take a nap. I felt horrible for just swooping in, doing my duty, and then disappearing. But on the other hand, I guess giving those kids even a few hours of attention was better than none at all. I probably won't ever know what happens to Leila....whether she will bring a coat tomorrow or not. I know she won't remember me, but hopefully for a short while I was able to make her feel special.
I decided on the ride home that I seriously need to start volunteering. Having great ideas is one thing, but it truly is the follow-through that counts. I am going to call Martha's Table tomorrow to offer my time. I realized today that every little bit helps, and I know my hands can make a difference.